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Laundry of Stephanus
Location: Regio I
Area: 361 square meters. meters Rooms: 12
Laundry of Stephanus was a large commercial
enterprise in Pompeii intended to clean people's clothes for money.
It was one of the largest laundries in Pompeii. Laundry of Stephanus
gets its name from numerous graffiti and frescoes on the outside
walls of the building. It says things like "the united fullers
recommend", "Stephanus recommends" and many others. Amphorae that
were discovered here used to contain urine needed to treat clothes.
Low pH of acidity of the urine was supposed to clean linens of the
people who brought their clothes here. They were emerged in the
large bath pictured on the right picture. Slaves would stump and mix
urine with the linen, thus serving as our modern version of the
Laundry or Fullonica Stephanus is located on the
south side of the Villa del Albbandansa. The building, which was
excavated in 1912, is the only known laundry in Pompeii. Other
laundries were apparently too small to be clearly identified. The
laundry was rebuilt in the existing building of the patrician house,
rationally modified to best fulfill its new function.
The entrance lobby (a) is quite wide, which facilitates access to
the rooms. The remains of a large clothes press were found at the
east wall of the lobby. The press that was used to “iron” the tunic
and tog, apparently, was very similar to the one found in nearby
Herculaneum. On the west side of the lobby is a room (b), which can
be used as an office for checking, receiving and delivering clothes.
The room is decorated in the fourth style with red panels with
decorative borders above the bottom red frieze. The panels contain
small central shapes. The upper zone contains architectural motifs
with garlands and bird life on a white background. The east wall is
open to the lobby for most of its length, and in the south wall
there is a narrow doorway that opens directly into the atrium (c).
In the atrium of the laundry room stands a massive central pool,
which has been turned into a washing tub by adding raised volume
space. This bath was probably used for more fragile and expensive
fabrics or with a small amount of stains. Clothes with more
resistant stains were literally trampled by workers in the baths in
the back of the room. The atrium is decorated in the fourth style
with red panels framed by decorative borders over the bottom black
frieze. The panels contain delicate images of animals and birds with
unusual architectural decorations.